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The perfect, portable camera, battery & audio storage? (Part 3 – audio kit)

When you do a lot of video making as we do, it’s important to make sure you have everything to hand. Being in the business we are in we also want it organised, protected and easy to find. Importantly too, in ready-to-go mode whenever you need it. As you might have seen from our post about bringing some improvement to our set up, we’ve already tackled our camera case with amazing results. Now it’s time to do the same with our audio kit. Specifically our Rode mic set up and enabling the charging of them on the go.

What will we store the audio kit in?

We opted for a backpack because that will allow us to carry it ergonomically on our shoulders. Mainly though it’s keeping our hands free for filming or transporting our Nuprol camera equipment case. We’d recently also organised some tools in a Dewalt backpack and had some great success with that. Through that we learned that even with heavy gear, the weight is more evenly distributed making it easier, and safer, to carry. rode mic audio kit video making

It’s frustrating that the PowerExtra backpack we got is no longer available. We found it the perfect size and formation for what we need. It’s multi-functional but was specifically designed to be a DSLR camera travel bag. It also has a large cavity to enable storage of lots of kit. Plus as the back panel opens right out, it gives us the access we need for getting the foam in there. As a total bonus, the inside liner of the case even pulls out. This gives us a perfect template to use for cutting our foam to size! You see, always looking for the most efficient ways of working!

What’s going in there

From a depth perspective, this bag will allow us to fit a 70mm layer and a 50mm layer of foam. For this, that’s great. We’ve refined our kit over the past 6-7 years so we have only the essentials that we might need in any situation. But of course we also need redundancy and back-ups, in case we have any technical issues when we’re out on the road. So even though this has been refined and stripped back over time, it’s still a lot of kit! rode mic audio kit video making

  • 2 x Zoom H1N‘s
  • 6 x Rode Lav‘s (aka Lavalier- lapel microphone) – stored as 3 sets of 2 – 1 main and 2 backup
  • 1 x Rode handheld mic
  • 1 x Kimafun transmitter / receiver
  • 2 x Rode mic duo set (2 transmitters / 1 receiver) – 1 main and 1 backup
  • 1 x Rode wireless solo
  • 1 x Camera backup kit (in addition to everything in our main camera storage)
    includes: 5 batteries
    Backup charger
    Lead
  • 1 x mains double adapter (with 2 x usb charging points)
  • 2 x USB adapters (will turn each of the two mains points above into 4 USB charging points, giving us 10 in total)
  • 1 x tin of Micro USB’s
  • 1 x tin of USB-C Leads
  • 1 x tin of lav extras (converters)
  • 1 x tin of lav extenders
  • 1 x USB / SD adapter

Additional things to help organise and store:

For the tins we bulk bought these from Amazon. They’re really handy for storing all sorts of smaller bits that could otherwise become lost. You could just as easily use an Altoids tin or similar if you have one laying around. That’s what we did back when we made our compact tool case.

We also had some slightly larger, soft zipped cases which were useful for storing slightly larger bits. Sometimes items might not lend themselves to being cut into the foam so that’s where these come in handy.

All of the above was clearly labelled using our bargain Dymo embossing labeller. Now we can find whatever we need really quickly. rode mic audio kit video making

Our rode mic, rode lavs, headphones, transmitters and all our audio equipment for video making all stored neatly in one backpack

How it’s done

We got our foam just cut into similarly sized rectangular shapes. You could do this either getting foam custom made to size, or by cutting down a sheet from a value pack or a medium sheet. You’ll also need cutting equipment. We’re using our Full Cutting Kit which we’d always recommend. This also contains safety gloves and our repair glue in case you make any errors. rode mic audio kit video making

By using the removable inner liner from the case we were easily able to trace cut around the edge of it. This gave us two identical sheets on both the 70mm and the 50mm liner. The 70mm will be going in the base and therefore won’t really need to be removed much if at all. But as the 50mm top layer needs to be removed to give us easier access to the thicker layer beneath, we made some modifications. We made it just a tiny bit smaller so it goes in and out more easily. But also added handles to the top and bottom for super convenience.

We then took time to plan our layout. As we always say whenever you’re shadowfoaming, this is a really important part of the process so shouldn’t be rushed. For us, we wanted the things we use most often in the top, then the backup items in the base.

Once we were happy with the layout, it was just time to cut and peel to fit the items into the foam. It’s always worth making use of our “how to” guides before starting. Especially if it’s your first time working with Shadow Foam.

Finishing touches.

We also used both our ruler and our stencil set. These meant we could get really neat looking finger pulls for some of the items to make them easier to take out. This is especially important in this case. Otherwise, when everything was packed into a “squashable” bag, the foam can be compressed around it’s contents a little. With the finger pulls, it’s still possible to get a firm finger hold to remove it.

We were really happy with how it looked as everything was fitted flush with nothing sticking out, which meant it would pack neatly away. And we did make a couple of little hacks or tweaks to really take this to another level:

Hack #1

With the power adapter, we wanted it to sit flush in the foam. So we cut the top profile into the foam, but then cut down an extra deep recess where the pins were to neatly house them without pushing the socket up out of the foam.

Hack #2

To make the most of the space available to us we did layer up some items within the individual foam layers. Eg with the handheld mic, once removed, it reveals it’s XLR extender cable beneath neatly stowed away for when it’s needed. And we did the same with the Kimafun transmitter / receiver so the ariels were housed beneath them.

Putting it all together

Once the inserts were fitted into the bag it actually served to give the bag a little more strength and form. But it still zipped up easily. rode mic audio kit video making

We added our interview cards to the flat front pocket on the bag. And in the large padded front pocket, that’s where our laptop can safely live so we can transfer and review footage on site easily. The power adapter for the laptop can then be safely stowed in the bags front pocket. rode mic audio kit video making

Our new rode mic for interviews takes centre stage in the top layer of foam, but conceals yet more kit beneath it too

So in conjunction with our Nuprol camera case, we think we now have the perfect organised mobile filming solution. But take a look, and see what you think. We’d love to hear what other ideas people have for improving this in future, so please do get in touch with your thoughts.

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